by Erin Kirkland
ProTip: If you intend to ski or ride Alyeska Resort’s Slush Cup during the annual Spring Carnival, it’s good to have a costume, the crazier the better. And probably nerves of steel. A showcase event marking the end of another Alaska ski season, the Spring Carnival has been a 40-year tradition in the small community of Girdwood.
Adults who attended Spring Carnival festivities back in the 70’s are now attending with their own kids, and some of them are participating in activities like that Slush Cup, a wacky, wild, and wet cornerstone of the whole event.
Get this: 7,800 cubic feet of water, one slippery slope, 50 brave souls, and aforementioned costumes mean a few hours of hilarity (along with some oohs and ahs from the crowd as people hit the cold water). Spectators are stacked along the fence line and far up the hill. On days like today, the whole atmosphere is one of beachside celebration, with everyone, young and old, turning their faces toward the sun as music streams from thumping sound systems and the smell of pulled pork and grilled onions tops off the Spring Carnival’s sensory gleefest.
Matt Paris, an Alyeska Resort mountain-jack-of-all trades, stood in the bright sunshine making sure pool depth was adequate for the Slush Cup starting at 4 p.m.
“This is my 16th year and it just keeps getting better,” he said, directing staff to hang sponsor signs and pull chunks of ice from the pool.
I asked him how long it took to fill up the double pools of cold Alaska water in preparation for the spring carnival’s signature event.
“Well, we started filling it up at 4 a.m. and just finished,” he replied, looking at his watch. It was 2:45 p.m.
The contestants roared down the mountain with both enthusiasm and moxie. Some were old hands at this and kept up speed, critical for skimming pond #1, hitting the jump, and landing without casualty in pond #2. Others, however, were not so lucky, and several epic crashes were both seen and heard. A judging panel of celebrities and sponsors awarded points for air, tricks, and splashdown. The crowd alternating between cheers and grimaces. The music kept thumping.
It will go on and on, far into the night, this spring carnival of snow. After 40 years, Alyeska Resort is dialed in to the best, most hilarious way of celebrating the end of winter, and frankly, I can’t think of a better way to spend an April weekend.
Sunday events? How about a Tug-of-War contest for kids and adults, or a “Dummy Race” where kids can create a dummy skier and send it flying down the hill, or, if you like, a mountain bike race on the last bit of slushy snow. The weather is fine, and the people, fun. Find out more HERE.
Spring Carnival Do and Don’t
- Do bring the kids, but make sure you have extra clothing, food, water, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc. It’s a long day outside.
- Do plan to park and walk. Bring a carrier for little ones.
- Do dress up. This is fun!
- Do take advantage of skiing, if you like. The season is extended until April 23, and spring snow conditions are superb.
- Do register by 10 a.m. at the Sitzmark if you’d like to participate in activities.
- Don’t bring alcohol of your own. Security is fierce and formidable.
- Don’t bring your dog, either. Just don’t. This is no place for a pup. Plus, security won’t let you on the hill.
Erin Kirkland is publisher of AKontheGO and author of the Alaska On the Go family travel guidebook series.